Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Plant and do not forget!

"Monsoon finally! I feel as relieved as drinking sweet lime after biting into a chilli." said Mahati's friend. The summer this time was so hot that some Indians went to the Sahara desert to chill out. Added to the heat was the disappointing loss to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final. Hence only after few rains did things cool down. Mahati and her friend were on the terrace enjoying the monsoon rains which are much awaited for, in India almost every year. The Indian Meteorological Department failed again to accurately predict Indian monsoon and hence, as they always did, they rolled dice everyday to predict the weather forecast and the amount of rain. Today they said it would be overcast. It started raining in the evening. Close enough!

Mahati's body was in the state of a thermal gradient, with her feet experiencing intense heat being radiated from the floor of the terrace as the air above it got cooler. As it rained, the first rain drops to touch the floor got vaporized instantly, sacrificing themselves to take the heat away from the floor so that the next generation of drops can land peacefully. As the temperatures dropped and the air got denser, with more oxygen to breathe in, Mahati and her friend heaved a sigh of relief and decided it was time to enjoy a walk in the rain and went downstairs. As they reached the gate of their apartment, they saw the watchman who decided to enjoy a beedi in the beautiful rain. He just finished the beedi and was putting it out against the trunk of a tree which was sprouting fresh leaves. "Balram, it is not good to smoke, especially in such a weather and on top of it, you are hurting a tree?" asked Mahati. The watchman, bewildered at the fact that he was hurting something made of wood said, "This is how I have been putting out my beedi for the past ten years madam!" Feeling disgusted, merciful and amused at the same time, Mahati and her friend went on just as the watchman plucked out some fresh leaves to chew them.

Salutes to the brave women of the Chipko movement 
"People need to change. They need to plant more trees. Otherwise, this guy is going to chew all the fresh leaves, killing them all! It is monsoon time and Vanamahotsav is round the corner. In the academic year, this is the first ever festival that school kids need to celebrate. They should go on a sapling planting drive. I heard that in a temple courtyard recently, they planted 3000 plants. That is great!" said Mahati. Her friend asked casually, "How many of them survived?" Mahati replied, "You are so pessimistic. It does not matter how many survived. In the 3000, even if 30 make it t become fully grown trees, it is great, no!" Her friend asked, "then why can't they have simply planted 30 plants and made sure they all made it to become trees? Let me explain. Once planted, a sapling needs the care that one takes, for a baby. It is not at all practical to take good care of thousands of plants. Planting saplings is not a photo opportunity. It is the duty of the people. Vanamahotsav means 'The festival of trees and forests.' It is not enough to chop down a tree to make way for a politician to plant a flowering plant and pose for photos. That was not why it was started by K M Munshi and actively endorsed by our first PM Pandit Nehru in 1950. This is a drive to conserve forests and make sure there are more trees around us. It is not necessary to plant 3000 saplings in the hope that 30 will survive. It should be that 30 saplings should be planted and made sure they grow into trees, apart from conserving the existing trees. Plant and take care of it. Do not forget and leave the plant to rot. That is the idea of a festival of trees!

They kept on walking on the street in the potholes of which rainwater was settling down, not knowing where else to sink into the ground. "Still, something is better that nothing, right." Mahati said. Her friend stopped suddenly and pointed at a huge banner hung on the side of the road. The banner read, 'Planting drive to plant a million saplings by our beloved chief minister - Vanamahatsav celebrations, 2016. Jai Telangana'
Right below the banner, there was evidence of the planting drive. Ten neat holes were dug and fences constructed around them to protect the saplings. The saplings dried up and died. The banner continued to flutter, stronger than ever.